Customer Experience in Financial Services and the Influence of Technology

Artificial Intelligence, Finance
Image Source: Shutterstock

By Priyan DC | Entrepreneur India Guest Writer
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Gradually yet steadily, technology has taken over all aspects of our life. And the financial services sector is no exception. Financial Services spanning investments, lending and management of assets are a fundamental part of fund management for individuals as well as corporations. One of the nuances of this sector is the volatility associated with it owing to factors such as prevailing market conditions, political scenario, performance of stocks, taxation norms, etc. Since this condition is a given, companies dealing with such financial instruments need to glean reams of data before counselling clients on the right investment choice or the right kind of loan to opt, for instance.

With the advent of technologies like Machine Learning and AI, it has made it easier for financial consultants to make sense and configure the mammoth amounts of data that is available. While in all of this, the customer has also become smarter in the bargain with easy access to ready information and real-time updates. There are online tools available these days that assist investors to make the right choice. Financial Institutions therefore have no choice in this scenario but to embrace technology and to integrate it into every core offering and communication.

The customer armed with all this information has become more demanding as a result and expects better service and a secure and comforting experience while making such decisions. Financial Institutions and fund managers need to therefore adopt superior customer experience strategies that are in synch with the evolving customer.


Why We Need to Fine-Tune Our Definition of Artificial Intelligence

AI, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Technology
Image source: Singularity Hub
By  – Singularity Hub


Sophia’s uncanny-valley face, made of Hanson Robotics’ patented Frubber, is rapidly becoming an iconic image in the field of artificial intelligence. She has been interviewed on shows like 60 Minutes, made a Saudi citizen, and even appeared before the United Nations. Every media appearance sparks comments about how artificial intelligence is going to completely transform the world. This is pretty good PR for a chatbot in a robot suit.

But it’s also riding the hype around artificial intelligence, and more importantly, people’s uncertainty around what constitutes artificial intelligence, what can feasibly be done with it, and how close various milestones may be.

There are various definitions of artificial intelligence.

For example, there’s the cultural idea (from films like Ex Machina, for example) of a machine that has human-level artificial general intelligence. But human-level intelligence or performance is also seen as an important benchmark for those that develop software that aims to mimic narrow aspects of human intelligence, for example, medical diagnostics.

The latter software might be referred to as narrow AI, or weak AI. Weak it may be, but it can still disrupt society and the world of work substantially.

Then there’s the philosophical idea, championed by Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrom, and others, of a recursively-improving superintelligent AI that eventually compares to human intelligence in the same way as we outrank bacteria. Such a scenario would clearly change the world in ways that are difficult to imagine and harder to quantify; weighty tomes are devoted to studying how to navigate the perils, pitfalls, and possibilities of this future. The ones by Bostrom and Max Tegmark epitomize this type of thinking.

This, more often than not, is the scenario that Stephen Hawking and various Silicon Valley luminaries have warned about when they view AI as an existential risk.

Those working on superintelligence as a hypothetical future may lament for humanity when people take Sophia seriously. Yet without hype surrounding the achievements of narrow AI in industry, and the immense advances in computational power and algorithmic complexity driven by these achievements, they may not get funding to research AI safety.

Some of those who work on algorithms at the front line find the whole superintelligence debate premature, casting fear and uncertainty over work that has the potential to benefit humanity. Others even call it a dangerous distraction from the very real problems that narrow AI and automation will pose, although few actually work in the field. But even as they attempt to draw this distinction, surely some of their VC funding and share price relies on the idea that if superintelligent AI is possible, and as world-changing as everyone believes it will be, Google might get there first. These dreams may drive people to join them.

Yet the ambiguity is stark. Someone working on, say, MIT Intelligence Quest or Google Brain might be attempting to reach AGI by studying human psychology and learning or animal neuroscience, perhaps attempting to simulate the simple brain of a nematode worm. Another researcher, who we might consider to be “narrow” in focus, trains a neural network to diagnose cancer with higher accuracy than any human.

Where should something like Sophia, a chatbot that flatters to deceive as a general intelligence, sit? Its creator says: “As a hard-core transhumanist I see these as somewhat peripheral transitional questions, which will seem interesting only during a relatively short period of time before AGIs become massively superhuman in intelligence and capability. I am more interested in the use of Sophia as a platform for general intelligence R&D.” This illustrates a further source of confusion: people working in the field disagree about the end goal of their work, how close an AGI might be, and even what artificial intelligence is.

Stanford’s Jerry Kaplan is one of those who lays some of the blame at the feet of…Continue reading


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AI won’t wipe out all jobs, but you need to be a constant learner to ride the wave

Artificial Intelligence, Tech
Image source: The News Minute

By Sanchit Khera | The News Minute

While being a constant learner has its own perks in the industry you’re in, it may have long-standing repercussions in the world of AI and automation. When factory workers get automated and replaced for something cheaper and more effective, their skills become inadequate to survive. They then defer to other industries or make other industries more competitive with cheaper labour. That’s the true impact of automation that isn’t being addressed these days.

Research by IT giant Infosys and Future Foundation found that teens living in countries such as India, UK, USA, Australia, France and other leading economies have a significant fear of AI. The youth of these countries believe that their future jobs will be automated in the next 10 years. Many students are losing faith in traditional educational institutions, opting for online mediums as being primary sources of information. This body of research shows how unprepared a lot of our youth are, and how we should be encouraging them to be constant leaners.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom as Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft, believes that AI will not completely wipe out all jobs. It’s not sophisticated enough to be able to understand nuances and insights such that it can deplete all human labour from the free-market.

“We’re at that stage where the choices we make are grounded in the fact that technology development doesn’t just happen – it happens because we humans make design choices. Those design choices need to be grounded in principles and ethics – and [that’s] the best way to ensure the future we all want,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was quoted as saying.

Some of the leading minds in AI don’t believe that the technology is going to completely wipe out all need for human input, however they do believe that it’s important to be a constant learner. If you’re not directly affected by AI just yet but want to lead the next wave of change, then being a part of it is a good start. You’re going to be one of the few people who understand the technology through and through, and can bring real change in the company you’re working in.

CEOs and employees who are prepared for the future, make for better leaders. They handle large-scale projects and create bigger impact on a grander scale. They’re also more prepared from a strategic perspective and can provide new avenues of growth and sustainability. When the AI wave hits India, there will be two types of CEOs – ones who are prepared for it, and others who aren’t. The ones who are constant learners can ride the wave through profitability.

When it comes to leadership from the government, there is a significant push to ensure that things are in motion. While many in the leadership role believe that AI fears are exaggerated, there are many committees being set up to understand the impact of AI and jobs.

About 40 lakh people are employed by the IT sector with 1.3 crore people being indirectly employed by it. If an AI boom were to hit India in one go, it would mean a catastrophe for those who aren’t prepared.

“We are working with Nasscom…Also, I have already set up several committees to examine the whole matter. Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be used for governance…for improvement. We are working quite closely with other departments like Niti Aayog,” IT Minister Ravi Shankar told Economic Times.

When it comes down to it, you have to take the final call of being independent. Through the power of being a constant learner you don’t need to rely on red tape, localised changes or macroeconomic factors to take place. As the power of entrepreneurship brings about steady role changes, you’re better prepared to face any consequences of AI.

You’re also going to get first-mover advantage if you use AI to your benefit. Even if you’re at the bottom of your organisation’s hierarchy, automation will not affect you if you work harder at your role. You’re competing for ‘value’ and if you bring more value than an automation software, then you won’t be removed.

It’s not sustainable anymore to work with larger organisations. Five to eight years from now, it was considered to be a stable career, to get into these larger tech companies. Nowadays, it’s a better option to start a company that leverages AI rather than eventually being displaced by one. With this, you’re entering blue oceans instead of competing on low-skill, low-differentiation, red waters.

With many of the large organisations offering courses in AI, and some of the leading Ivy-League schools having classes in machine learning, there is no space for laziness. You need to take matters in your own hands and be one of the first few to embrace this change that’s coming.


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6 Customer Experience Conferences to Get On Your Radar

Inbound Marketing, Technology, Digital Marketing, Customer Experience
Image credit: DAVID CALHOUN

Dom Nicastro


The desire to deliver excellent digital customer experiences is well-documented. Jacob Morgan, senior analyst for Forresterwrote in a blog late last year the “next generation of consumer experiences is evolving collaboratively.” Organizations need heavy investment in underlying technology and “alignment of architecture, talent, process and culture to make it happen.” And if you needed any other evidence businesses yearn for digital customer experiences, 91 percent told CMSWire in the 2017 Digital Customer Experience Survey (download required) that delivering digital CX is extremely important to their organization.

Take Me to the Digital Experience Ballgame!

One of the best ways to draw inspiration for digital CX delivery is through networking and live events with fellow customer experience professionals and digital marketers. With the second half of 2018 ahead of us and more events on the calendar than you can shake a stick at, we wanted to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and find the remaining standout conferences and events of 2018.

Forrester CX NYC 2018 (June 19-20)

Forrester’s latest CX event — June 19-20 at the New York Hilton Midtown — is targeted for CX professionals in order to expand their strategies. Topics range from data management and technology strategies to journey mapping and connections between marketing, sales and services.

Some featured speakers include Michael Cerda, chief product officer for Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and Tara Brannigan, head of marketing for BOOK, by Cadillac.

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HubSpot’s INBOUND 2018 (Sept. 4-7)

The 20,000-plus inbounding marketing conference invades Boston once again at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Sept 4-7. Attendees will get their fair share of conference organizer HubSpot’s latest technology advancements and developments from their partners, but it’s also a conference to pick up on inbound marketing strategies and new techniques and technology like how artificial intelligence (AI) has influenced marketing technologies and strategies. Featured speakers include Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieDeepak Chopra and Beth ComstockContinue reading

The Human Connection: A Personal Business Thought

Human Contact, Hands

By Kym Gordon Moore

No doubt our world is rapidly changing through assorted technological manifestations. Our business practice is ladled with scoops of artificial technology, augmented and virtual reality. We seek to do things faster to save time, yet sometimes we seem to need more time to do our tasks faster. Sounds like an oxymoron? Yeah, well it is.

As a consumer, personally going through self-scanning checkouts keep me from standing in a long line and getting frustrated, although at times I want to talk to that cashier and have a personal interaction a machine can’t convey. When I call technical support or attempt to reach a specific department for assistance, I don’t always want to talk to an automated message because if I accidentally press an incorrect number, I have to start the process all over again. If I need a problem taken care of, I tend to put more value in human interaction, at least for acknowledging the problem and offering to help solve it, even if automation is a bit more accurate.

After examining a few unofficial polls, at times people noted they tend to feel alienated because artificial devices are replacing that human connection. Upon talking to many consumers, they sometimes express they feel like a number or inanimate object when they only interact with artificial intelligence vs. natural human intelligence. Yet, there’s an overwhelming number of consumers who are unmoved by the absence of human contact. The world they are accustomed to is mostly automated.

We find ourselves so entrapped by our smart devices, that we don’t even have eye to eye contact with each other anymore. We don’t stop and smell the roses because virtual flowers on apps, graphic images or memes entertain our sight and senses. We don’t observe the obvious that stands before us because we are being navigated by a computer led artificial compass which redirects and repositions.

Life is not an invisible touch, even in our technological savvy lifestyle. As we reflect on our business operations, let’s not forget to personalize our services, not simply through the personalized greeting in an email or generic letter, but by using our vocal cords to have interpersonal connections, as we reach out and touch the soul of another…the soul of our customer. Perhaps we have to get back to basics and learn how to truly “listen” again.

Who decides the future of artificial intelligence? Young people (if we support them)

Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Trends, Youth

By Maria Axente, PwC AI Programme Driver & AI for Good Lead, with input from Jonnie Penn, University of Cambridge and MIT

Today, young people are in pole position to steer the best possible future of the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

As Douglas Adams famously said: “Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

The next generation is coming of age as the most exciting chapter in the development of AI is written. And there is a huge opportunity for organisations to harness the power of this younger generation to play a guiding role in how this technology is used and develops.

This would seem especially true as millennials are often seen as digital natives, having grown up with technology. However, as Jonnie Penn, an AI researcher at the University of Cambridge and MIT, points out: “We know now that what is true offline is true online as well: not all young people receive equal access to training or opportunity. The countries that invest to rectify this imbalance will benefit most from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will be shaped by many voices.”

As a teenager, Penn co-founded The Buried Life, a successful media startup in North America that empowers millions of young people worldwide to find purpose in their life. Making sure that all young people have access to technology and therefore have a voice and platform to discuss how it develops is vital.

Change at an unprecedented pace

This is particularly important as the world of work is experiencing a huge amount of change at an unprecedented pace, with disruptive innovations like robotics, gig economy services or collaborative commerce putting traditional jobs at risk.

PwC analysis suggests that the biggest perceived driver of change to work is technological innovation.

“The future is bright for young people in AI, as long as they’re given a seat at the table.” – Jonnie Penn

Education systems have so far struggled to cope with these rapid changes in skills structure and alternative forms of education currently lack in…continue reading

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When the Stars Align: A New Constellation of Innovation

Innovation, Constellation
Image Source: Karina Mullen Branson

By Samantha Becker and Seth Greenberg | EdSurge

Innovation is happening all over higher education today—but it is happening in islands, pockets and clusters. Around the country it’s happening at large four-year public institutions like Arizona State University and small two-year colleges like Wayfinding Academy in Oregon. On campuses, it’s happening in the Office of the President, where grand visions find their footing, and in the office of an instructional designer, who may be helping a faculty member create their first course integrating VR content. Each of these institutions are home to optimistic changemakers: people who are passionate about supporting engaging, relevant learning experiences that are accessible and affordable to all.

But who are these people?

At the end of April, about 130 of these “dreamers, doers, and drivers” gathered for an unconference at Arizona State University’s research center, EdPlus, under the umbrella idea of Shaping the Future of Learning in the Digital Age. The event was brainchild of ASU’s new CIO, Lev Gonick, and co-convened by 13 institutions and organizations, and included representatives from industry as sponsors and thought partners. The backdrop of ASU was a fitting one; Edplus represents arguably the largest innovation hub at any higher ed institution and the university more broadly has been recognized as the most innovative school in the country by US News and World Report, in part for leading the charge for more accessible, affordable education.

The format of the event is worth reflecting on. Intimate events for increased information sharing, network-building, and cross-campus collaboration are becoming more popular. And the unconference format enables participants to engage with major themes—and each other—in ways that deeply resonate with them.

Even in a space where everyone was bound to have their own institutional and personal agendas, we saw several themes emerge, some of which become became fodder for “neighborhood” action-oriented discussions.

1: Innovation in the Neighborhoods

As participants leveraged the power of ideation and design thinking, along with a helpful tool called Ideation360, here are a few of the ideas that bubbled to the top:

  • How to foster personalized learning environments (PLEs):
  • Understanding the implications and use cases of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality VR) — categorized as extended reality (XR), along with artificial intelligence (AI);
  • More effective understanding of how to use data and analytics to measure learning and drive decision-making;
  • Applying micro-credentials to recognize all forms of learning;
  • How to nurture the next generation of diverse, university leaders
  • Rise of new organizational models for collaboration

Each of these topics shared more questions than answers. A collection of popular tweets represents…Continue Reading

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